By Laura Swanson
When you dial 911 to report a fire, every second counts.
Nehalem Bay Fire & Rescue responds as quickly as possible, but in the past, upon arrival they might have encountered a hydrant with low flow rates or no hydrant nearby at all. Now, NBF&R have completed an inventory and mapping of all the district’s hydrants, including flow tests. The hydrants are now color-coded by the flow rate, how many gallons per minute comes from that hydrant, which tells the fire-fighters when they arrive how much water is available to put out the fire. “This information is extremely helpful to our firefighters,” said fire chief Perry Sherbaugh, “and by doing this and some other pre-planning, we have lowered the fire district’s ISO number.” The state Insurance Services Office (ISO) assigns a rating, using a grading system from 1 to 10 (one being the best/lowest rate, 10 one the highest) to each fire district which then determines the insurances rates for the community.
“We had a very positive inspection, and our citizens should contact their insurance company to find out what rating they have,” said Sherbaugh. “Nehalem Bay Fire and Rescue is now at a 5.”
He continued, “We are working on fire pre-planning for commercial buildings, such as churches, NCRD, etc. and will invite ISO back after the first of the year to lower the numbers further with a demo of shuttling water.” The fire district’s new apparatus, new engine, helped to lower the ISO numbers and with a demonstration of shuttling water the rural part of the district is rated at 6B. “When the first ISO numbers were done after the district was formed, many people saved significantly on their insurance rates, and we hope that our continued efforts to improve fire safety, upgrade equipment and training, that we can lower those number even further and save our citizens money,” Sherbaugh said.
NBF&R has three full-time employees, and relies on 30 volunteers as well. “For medical calls our QRT, quick response team has saved numerous lives,” Sherbaugh said. “With only four ambulances in the county, you never know where they might be.” The volunteers continue to increase their training with many completing advanced training courses. NBF&R has experienced a steady increase in the number calls – in 2013 there were 668 calls; in 2014, 725 calls; and to date over 620 calls, with 90 days left in the year, it is likely the fire district will exceed 800 calls in 2015.
NBF&R is the sponsoring government entity that just received $130,000 grant from Homeland Security to fund a Mass Casualty Incident trailer, a “Sim” man for training purposes, and ham radio upgrades. “We have an amazing community, and working together on the emergency planning and preparations for this grant were possible because of our partnerships with Tillamook County Emergency Management, the EVC, CERTs and MRC,” Sherbaugh said. “We are here to take care of our citizens during any emergency, and to do it to the best of our ability. We take pride in doing our jobs every day.”